Fall style takes many directions

September 18, 1991|By Pat Morgan | Pat Morgan,Knight-Ridder Newspapers YZB

Let's assume that you need to be prim and proper, conservative and classic by day, but you long for mystery and intrigue, drama and glamour after hours. Boy, oh boy, will you be happy with fashion this fall.

Clothing manufacturers, struggling for several seasons to keep their heads above recessionary waters, are in need of a direction. (Translation: They need to sell more clothes.) And, as so often happens, the industry has gone several ways at once for fall '91.

At one extreme is the kicky schoolgirl look plaids, pleated skirts, traditional blazers, even ankle socks and loafers.

At the other end of the style spectrum is the high glamour look inspired by the silver screen goddesses of the '30s and '40s nipped waists, broad shoulders, peplums and other fit-and-flare shapes, dramatic makeup and neatly coiffed hair. Think Bette Davis in "Now, Voyager."

Somewhere in the middle is the more practical, but no less chic, menswear inspiration. Think Katharine Hepburn in almost anything.

Seem confusing? It is. But if there's a common denominator here, it's movement.

Short, pleated skirts flip; long, full ones twirl. Drapey trench coats and roomy bathrobe-styled toppers are anything but stiff. Tent-shaped trapeze styles shirts and dresses that require no breeze to billow remain a major trend, often worn over slender pants.

When the clothes don't move, the bodies under them do. Second-skin Lycra leggings allow for much more freedom of movement than do narrow hobble skirts. And women certainly are free to stride in full-cut, man-tailored pantsuits. Even the form-hugging, waist-emphasizing, fit-and-flare silhouette pays homage to movement, in this case the subtly seductive motion of a woman's hips as she walks.

Almost as prevalent are man-styled pantsuits traditionally cut trousers, often with Hollywood waists reminiscent of "The Great Gatsby"; long, slightly oversized jackets that look as though you might have borrowed them from a lover's closet.

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